Kefka is the primary villain in the Squaresoft video game Final Fantasy VI (known as Final Fantasy III in the U.S.). Kefka is an insane, egomaniacal villain who starts out as a mere lackey but eventually acquires godlike powers. He is perhaps best remembered for his dedicated sound effect, a shrill maniacal cackle.
Kefka, as a character, has had a profound impact on the Final Fantasy series as well as role-playing games, and story-driven video games in general. Beyond his popularity with fans of the game, his presentation as a character was radically different from other final bosses, who were often large, demonic figures with no bearing on stories in video games other than to serve as a final challenge. Kefka broke this tradition, not only for his portrayal as a largely humorous character, but also plotwise, beginning the game as a low-level yes-man, gaining influence and power before finally becoming a global threat.
Kefka's full name is Kefka Palazzo, although this is not actually mentioned in the game. His first name is believed to be derived from the name of the author Franz Kafka.
Kefka, though a profoundly unique individual from the series, is also one of the most forgotten. Squaresoft, now Square-Enix, popularized the Final Fantasy series with three-dimensional graphics in Final Fantasy 7, a worldwide phenomena that made the series a mainstream cult following. The change was brought when President Yamauchi of Nintendo disputed with Squaresoft and refused to work to them. Nintendo lost Squaresoft until Yamauchi's resignation when Nintendo took its remaining assets and pleaded for Squaresoft to return.
Nevertheless, Squaresoft brought the series to the Sony Playstation and Final Fantasy moved from a small cult following to a worldwide gaming market. In attempt to resurrect their old games, Squaresoft released Final Fantasy VI in a compilation with it's predecessor, a never-seen Final Fantasy V in America. Though most elitist gamers find the cartridge speeds and sounds excelled on the cartridge compared to its CD remake on the Sony Playstation, Final Fantasy Anthology may be the only way consumers can see Kefka in Final Fantasy VI.
Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.
Kefka was the first volunteer for an experimental Magitek infusion, under supervision of a scientist named Cid. The process was flawed, and although Kefka gained the ability to use magic, it shattered his sanity.
The Empire, a worldwide influence of fear and control, led its attacks by General Leo, General Celes and General Kefka.
Kefka spends much of the game as a mid-level minion of Emperor Gestahl, the ruler of the corrupt kingdom which largely controls the civilized world. Kefka's maniacal zeal in carrying out the Emperor's dirty work pits him against the heroes of the game on a number of occasions.
Kefka's major attempt at destabilizing an underground resistance, known as "The Returners," began to unfold when Terra Branford, a child raised by Gestahl after The Empire killed her hometown, murdered fifty of the Empire's finest soldiers within less than three minutes. In response, Kefka used a technology-based mind control apparatus that wrapped around Terra's head. Its shape and positioning on the head dubbed it "Slave Crown." Kefka abused her abilities and made her kill soldiers with the use of the crown. Kefka commanded the controlled Terra to seek out a rumored creature of magic in the caves of a mining coal town to the northeast. Later, a townsman removed her crown after her defeat against the creature, causing amnesia and very slow progression towards remembering The Empire's deeds.
Kefka's crimes include arson, poisoning, genocide, regicide, and omnicide. He is soon mortally wounded in a confrontation with Celes, and in the resulting fit of pique he betrays the Emperor and destabilizes the Goddess Statues, artifacts of enormous power, thus becoming a god at the cost of causing a near-apocalypse.
After the end of the world, Kefka uses the magic he absorbed from the Goddess Statues to create a massive tower of random debris to serve as his headquarters, using his powers to smite millions of people who refuse to worship him. Many global inhabitants form the "Cult of Kefka" in his honor to avoid certain death.
Kefka rules over the planet for approximately one year, before the heroes of the game regroup and attack his stronghold. During their final battle, Kefka reveals to the heroes that he has developed a nihilistic revelation, explaining that life is meaningless and his goal is now the destruction of everything.
During the final battle with Kefka, the player must fight through several forms of the character, as is traditional with final bosses in role-playing games. Several of these forms are interpretations or parodies of Renaissance art, including Michelangelo's Pietà, with an image of Kefka replacing that of Jesus Christ; as well as the character's final form, as an Angel of Death.
Kekfa is also notable for many humorous one-liners during the course of the game. The following are taken from the original English translation of Final Fantasy VI.
"These recon jobs are the pits! ...AHEM! There's SAND on my boots!" - To his soldiers, who clean his boots and salute.
"I'd hate to see anything happen to your precious Figaro!" - The day before Kefka sets Figaro Castle on fire.
"Wait, he said. Do I look like a waiter?" - While engaged into battle by Sabin at the imperial encampment near Doma.
"Nothing can beat the music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison!" - After poisoning the Doma river to kill all of the city's inhabitants.
"I hate hate hate hate hate hate... hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE YOU!" - to Celes, after she stabs him in the gut instead of executing her friends.
"Run! Run! Or you'll be well done!" - While zapping the Emperor with lightning after acquiring the power of the Goddess Statues.
"This is sickening... You sound like chapters from a self-help booklet! Prepare yourselves!" - During the final confrontation, as a reply to the heroes' cliché, melodramatic "what we've learned on our journey and why we fight against evil" speech. This line gave rise to the term "self-help booklet scene" among gamers to refer to similar sequences in other games.
"Life... dreams... hope... Where'd they come from? And where are they headed? These things... I am going to destroy!" - Final battle dialogue
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